By and  on October 31, 2013

Morgan Stanley delivered a sooty lump of coal to apparel retailers on Thursday, via a grim forecast for the current holiday season. Softlines sales are expected to ring up a meager 1.6 percent same-store sales gain in the fourth quarter, the worst performance since 2008. That figure is 190 basis points below last year’s 3.5 percent increase and 220 basis points below the four-year average from 2009 to 2012.

The estimate was the most pessimistic of the major holiday forecasts from organizations like the National Retail Federation and ShopperTrak, which published earlier estimates of sales increases of 3.9 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, for the season. Each study analyzed a different universe of retail channels and companies.

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